SA set to host new European Tour event

2013-08-18 14:00

The Sunshine Tour will soon officially unveil a brand new and lucrative co-sanctioned international tournament in Joburg.

The event, to be jointly staged with the European Tour, will be the eighth top-notch global showpiece to be added to the already hectic and exciting

local golfing calendar. Other tournaments that form part of this yearly feature of nonstop action are the Joburg Open, Africa Open, Tshwane Open,

SA Open Championship, Alfred Dunhill Championship, Nedbank Golf Challenge and the Nelson Mandela Championship, which is the last event of the year before the festive season break.

In spelling out the new event, the Sunshine Tour’s chief operating officer, Grant Wilson, said the new competition will definitely have an international flavour. “Look, it’s not yet official but all I can say at the moment is that the Sunshine Tour will add a new tournament to increase the line-up of the seven we already have,” he said.

“I can’t let the cat out of the bag with much details at this premature stage, save to say that the event will definitely be staged some time in the middle of next year once everything has been finalised.”

Wilson, who has apparently been crisscrossing the length and breadth of Europe for the past months in a mission to try and discuss the event’s sponsorship and other intricacies, said an official announcement would be made soon.

Depending on his surreptitious behind-the-scenes moves abroad, it will come as no surprise if ­big-name overseas players are lured to feature against some of South Africa’s top golfers in the envisaged contest. Like other European Tour-sanctioned contests, this new event will also take off the ground with a sponsorship of not less than €2 million (R26.7 million) in sponsorship.

The money splashed out for last year’s Alfred Dunhill tourney at the picturesque Leopard Creek Golf Club in Malelane, Mpumalanga, was a cool €1.5 million. Since its inception in 2001, Charl Schwartzel has won the competition twice.

But then again, nothing can steal the thunder from this year’s revamped Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in Rustenburg. It has been backed up by a mouthwatering $6.5 million (R65 million).

What will give this year’s “Africa’s Major” the mettle befitting its stature is the fact that it will feature an increased 30-man field – a contrast to the 12-man field that has been adhered to over the years.

Unlike the other co-sanctioned Sunshine Tours, the Sun City showpiece will showcase talent from golfers from other leading world tours – the US PGA, Asian Tour, Australian Tour, Japan Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.

It bodes well for the image of South African golf in general to have international flavour in the form of another global event being staged here.

Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournaments

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